What are "Company Values" Anyway?
Company values seem to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different companies. For some, "values" is just a meaningless, hollow page on their website, aimed more at convincing prospective employees that the company is worth working for than telling them what the company is really like.
We didn't want out values to be some glib buzzwords on a page nobody ever reads. So we've worked hard to make sure that our values mean something.
- We collaborate on forming our values at least annually
- We distinguish between the values we have as a company that we are proud of, and those things we think should be standard
- We recognise our peers for their values-supporting activities
- We financially reward activities which support and promote our values inside and outside the business
A lot of companies have values you might consider obvious. What company or employee does not consider honesty, teamwork, or hard work important? We believe values should be authentic and unusual. They should not be easy - having values as a company means sometimes making a hard choice for a reason other than profit.
How We Collaborate
We created our values together and we take the time to review them at least annually. We last did this at the start of 2021.
We are also working on ways to give ourselves targets and measure our performance against those targets when it comes to our values. For example, we consider ourselves customer-led, but it's hard to say to what extent that actually applies to us. So, we're looking at measuring things like the number of code commits we do that originate from a customer request, and how many non-customer-originating pieces of work were put ahead of a customer request.
How We Recognize Our Peers
We don't want to be values-obsessives. We're a company, not a cult. But we did want to provide a simple system, with financial benefits, to allow us each to acknowledge when we do live our values.
So we use Bonusly, tied to a dedicated Slack channel (#values, of course). That makes it nice and easy to give someone else a nod, and they accrue those nods and convert them to vouchers, cash or charitable donations.
How We Reward Values-Supporting Activity
Starting in 2021, we will be directing 5% of company profits into supporting our values internally and externally. This isn't in place yet and we haven't worked out all the details, but the plan is to provide a mechanism for the team to decide as a group where the money should go, whether that's donations or activities or something else entirely.